Monthly Archives: March 2014

Blueberry Coconut Dog Cookies

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You have a good dog. Your dog deserves a treat. Not just any treat, but a wholesome, delicious treat made with love by YOU!  Something packed with goodness, like antioxidant-rich blueberries and omega-laden flax seeds. Oh, and coconut, too. Coconut loves dogs as much as dogs love coconut! Enter Blueberry Coconut Dog Cookies.Blueberry1_lrThe beauty of making dog treats is how truly nonjudgmental pooches are. You don’t need fancy cookie cutters! Get a little over- or under-done? No thing. Your hound will give you an adoring look and you will know that you are BEST PERSON EVER. Just look how excited our greyhound is. We love making cookies for her. Your dog will truly appreciate your efforts in the kitchen.

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Ready to get out your cookie sheets? Head on over to the Sister Eden blog, where we cross-posted this recipe. It’s really simple and all you need is a food processor or blender, and you’re in business. The ingredients go in, pulse a bit and the dough is done. Bake the cookies and – done! Release the hounds!

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Parmela: Doin’ It Parmesan Style

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It’s unassuming, that little yellow box. It arrived in the mail from Vegan Cuts, a new Parm “cheese” and we planned a pasta dinner to try it out. Parmela looks like real Parmesan; it smells like real Parmesan, even sprinkles like it from your spoon… but what exactly is it? What is aged nut cheese?parmela_lrYou would not believe the jokes we came up with over “aged nut cheese.” If the product wasn’t so darn good, no one could ever take it seriously with a label like that. But it IS good. It’s delish in fact, and we used up three container of Parmela in record speed. It was great on pasta, of course. But also sprinkled over soups, salads, on sandwiches, wraps. It added a depth of flavor not unlike aged dairy cheese.

Parmela is a fermented vegan cheese created wholly from non-dairy, cholesterol free ingredients. Dairy cheese is one of the foods highest in cholesterol and the link between a high cholesterol diet and heart disease is well documented. Nuts, in addition to being cholesterol free can play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease.  Almonds and cashews form the base for Parmela and nutritional yeast adds a range of B vitamins.  The formation of Parmela‘s authentic “cheese” flavor occurs during fermentation, which is also where the soy is broken down into a form that is more easily digested. All ingredients are non-GMO.

It even sounds dreamy…Parmela. Like the name of some supermodel.  But this little beauty is attainable! Parmela is available locally at Pangea Vegan Store in Rockville. You can also buy it online at Vegan Essentials or check this link to see if it’s for sale a store near you!

Now you don’t have to miss Parmesan. Grab some aged nut cheese and sprinkle over the spaghetti to your heart’s content!

Cooking with BEER!

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Baltimore Vegan Drinks is taking the beer out of the pub and putting it… in your food! Next Tuesday March 25th, Chef Gregory Brown from The Land of Kush will present the first in a “Cooking with Booze” series for BVDrinks from 7pm to 9pm, highlighting several dishes made with beer. Like these dank beer-battered onion rings. Yes, we got to be there for the preview tasting. Yes, these are killer-delicious. It’s like stepping back in time to all the greasy fried onion ring heaven you remember from county fairs – only waaay better because these have BEER in them and they’re VEGAN. Sigh…

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Chef Gregory will be preparing other offerings as well, including Seitan Stewed in Beer Broth with Homemade Dumplin’s. Very tasty with mixed veggies!

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It’s the man himself – Chef Gregory Brown!!! You know and love him from his cafe – all that wonderful soul food like kale salad, seitan ribs and of course, the mac & cheese.

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This is an awesome class not to be missed! The event will be hosted by the Local Color Flowers studio on Brentwood Ave. in Baltimore. Yes, there will be door prizes, like at all Baltimore Vegan Drinks events! And surprises too! Guests will get goodie bags and a special vegan beer guide made by none-other than blogger, The Vegan’s Husband. Tickets are $30 and available on the BVDrinks event page.

Don’t miss out, because we WILL eat your portion of the onion rings! (We don’t feel bad about that, either…)

Sweeties: Rescue Chocolate

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Chocolate is a serious topic round these parts, and we have to say, Rescue Chocolate is a habit worth adopting. Speaking of adoption, 100% of their profits are donated to animal rescue organizations!! Yes, you read that correctly – 100% donated! Ahem. Don’t act like you’re not impressed!

Rescue1_lrEach flavor highlights a different rescue-related issue: Peanut Butter Pit Bull (crispy peanut butter and chocolate, countering the negative public image of the pit bull-type dogs); Forever Mocha (hazelnut praline and coffee, highlighting ways to help people make and honor a lifetime commitment to their pets); Foster-iffic Peppermint (dark chocolate with peppermint, highlighting the need for people to provide foster care for shelter animals as they await their forever homes); Mission Feral Fig (fig, cranberry, almond, and spices, highlighting the humane solution for feral cats, TNR); The Fix (plain 72%, highlighting the importance of spay and neuter); Fakin’ Bacon (smoky, sweet and salty, a salute to farm animal sanctuaries and compassionate gourmands); and Pick Me Pepper (sweet ’n spicy dark chocolate with peppers, highlighting the advantages of choosing pets from animal shelters instead of breeders or pet stores). There are also smaller candies like the Bow Wow Bon Bons and Wild at Heart Raspberry-Filled Chocolates, plus seasonal goodies. Right now there are chocolate bunnies waiting to hop into your Easter basket, as well as Passover cashew-clusters.

Not only are these candies bringing attention to animal rescue, they are freakin’ delicious – and eco-friendly!! The chocolate is organic and fair trade, and all bars are certified kosher. Wrappers are recyclable and they use biodegradable peanuts for shipping.

Rescue Chocolate was founded in January 2010 and is based in Brooklyn, NY. Each month a different animal rescue organization is selected to receive a donation from chocolate sales.The list of animal rescues that has been helped by Rescue Chocolate is truly incredible! I’d post it here, but you’re be scrolling for ages. When you have an hour to read them all (okay, maybe ten minutes), you can click here. You will see breed-specific dog groups, SPCAs, Humane Societies, No-Kill shelters, farm animals sanctuaries and more.

Rescue2_lrAll this talk about what a good thing you’ll be doing when you eat Rescue Chocolate almost made me forget – this stuff is ssooo tasty!! We’ve eaten each flavor by itself and we love using the Foster-iffic Peppermint in coconut ice cream.

Where can you find these wonderful bars, you ask? At the moment, you’re going to need to go online if you are in Maryland like us. Buy directly from Rescue Chocolate or use their handy reference to see if any of the stores selling their sweeties are close to you.

Meat Out 2014 & Easy Salsa Pasta Salad

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MeatoutlogoWe’ve been herbivores around here for years. So it doesn’t seem complicated to us, the concept of going meatless for one day. However, we’re in the minority. Approximately 1% of Americans are vegan and an additional 3% are vegetarian. But the veggie-loving lifestyle is growing. The popularity of Meatless Mondays has been increasing. And the MeatOut is an annual event devoted to spreading the word about how awesome the plant-based life can be!!

MeatOut has been around a while. Formerly known as the Great American MeatOut, it was started in 1985 by the good folks at FARM. The idea is to set up a booth, get some flyers – basic grassroots stuff – and try to convince people to go without meat for one day. This simple act will save thousands of animals’ lives and make an environmental impact as well. On the MeatOut website, new pledges can sign up and get encouraging emails, meal plans and info about health, animal rights and climate change

We’re proud supports of MeatOut and hope you will check out their website and spread the word – cuz the Big Day is tomorrow, March 20! Try it – see if you can go with no animals on your plate for one day. Yea, it might be a change. But change is good – it keeps your brain active and challenges you to grow emotionally & spiritually. Why not get those benefits while you do good for so many other causes? It’s a win-win-win-win.

The wonderful folks over at Sister Eden asked us to create a simple pasta recipe for this occasion that anyone could make. We were equal to the task and came up with Easy Salsa Pasta Salad. This tasty lunch or dinner recipe travels well, is good warm or cold and can be made gluten-free if you use brown rice pasta (we like spirals, but any shape will work). You can use canned, frozen or fresh veggies. And the toughest part of the entire process is boiling and draining the noodles!!

SalsaPasta_lrNow you have a crazy-easy way to get going for MeatOut. Click over to Sister Eden and grab the recipe. You might even have many of the ingredients on hand. Make this simple meal, and you have lunch or dinner all squared away for the MeatOut. Need more ideas? Have a healthful breakfast of oatmeal made with water – drizzle with maple syrup and enjoy with an apple or banana; for lunch the Easy Salsa Pasta Salad; and at dinner time, make veggie burgers or beans and rice with veggies. Eating out for dinner? Go Chinese or Japanese – there are loads of meatless options, and they’re delicious! Oh and – there are loads of recipes on this blog! Click the “Munchies” link above for a listing of all the recipes we’ve ever posted.

Happy MeatOut!

Better In-Between

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The space in-between teeth is pretty neglected. Both the DH and I have been scolded by our dentist for failure to FLOSS our teeth. But because we post so much about food, we wanted to share this PSA – you need to take care of your teeth! Did you know that you can brush your teeth two or three times a day and still get cavities? If you don’t floss, food residue can settle between your teeth, then comes bacteria, then come cavities and gum disease. Some experts even link higher risk of heart disease to poor dental care. All this because you don’t floss.

To our surprise, most flosses aren’t vegan! The stringy part is normally coated in beeswax and some flavors even contain dairy ingredients. Geez! And talk about NOT eco friendly – we have not yet found the mainstream company that can make biodegradable dental floss. It’s just string you run between your teeth, right? Why so artificial?

On the search for vegan, greener dental floss we found two companies we liked. They aren’t perfect – still made from nylon/polyester. But they’re vegan and made without a long list of nasty chemicals or artificial dyes. It’s an improvement, a step in the right direction.

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First we found Radius Cranberry Floss. It is a completely vegan, nylon floss coated in candelilla wax and cranberry essence from USA-sourced berries. Radius contains no glutens, preservatives, GMO’s, artificial sweeteners or color, or fluoride and is sweetened with Xylitol. Cranberry is a natural source of phytochemicals which have been proven to stop unwanted bacteria clinging to surfaces (think UTIs, ladies!). It acts as a natural inhibitor to plaque on the surfaces between teeth and helps prevent gum disease.

We couldn’t taste a strong cranberry flavor, but it got the job done and it’s worth checking out! Yea, it’s in a plastic container, we know. But, floss is considered a medical device by the FDA and they require it to be packaged in a plastic container. If your area accepts #5 plastic, you can recycle it. And of course, the cardboard box is recyclable (and printed on recycled paper!)

Radius flosses are manufactured in a family owned, fair trade farm cooperative in Colombia. You can buy them online at Amazon or at MOM’s Organic Market, Whole Foods, the Vitamin Shoppe and Wegman’s in the Maryland/DC area. Oh – Radius also makes vegan floss in mint and they DO make a biodegradable floss, but it is made of silk and is not vegan.

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The second floss we found was Theraneem. If you haven’t heard about neem oil, you need to get with it. Neem oil is like a miracle! It’s  rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants;  it’s gentle, skin conditioning and renowned for its beautifying properties. Prized for its rich nutty-garlic like aroma, it is used widely to increase the health of the skin for humans, pets and to support healthy gardens. Theraneem‘s ethically wild-harvested and certified organic.

This floss is made of polyester and contains  extracts of neem leaf and bark, grapeseed, clove, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon and licorice. It’s vegan and it tastes awesome!!! Again, it’s not compostable, but you can recycle the paper box and the plastic container. We loves this floss, it has a strong spicy flavor, even an slight aroma!

Theraneem is available locally at MOM’s Organic Market, Whole Foods, David’s Natural Market and they have an online list to help you track some down local to you!

Now – take care of your teeth. So you can eat more delicious food!! 🙂

Tequila Citrus Beyond Meat Chimi’s

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This is the first time we’ve made chimichangas. Ever. But we were experimenting with Beyond Meat chicken-less strips in a tequila citrus marinade, and really, it just worked. The tangy citrus flavor of the Beyond Meat in marinade contrasts perfectly with the crisp fried tortilla shell. The slivered red pepper provides snap and freshness, and refried beans hold everything together. Pair this with a margarita and some guac. Perfection!

tqchimi_lrTequila Citrus Beyond Meat Chimi’s

1 pack Beyond Meat chicken-less strips, SouthWest flavor

1/4 cup tequila

2 oranges, juiced

zest of one lime

2 limes, juiced

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. oregano

1 jalapeño, seeded and diced finely

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

salt and pepper

2 cups peanut oil or other high-heat frying oil

8 large tortilla wraps

1/2 can refried beans

1 red pepper, slivered into matchsticks

1 cup Daiya cheddar or pepperjack shreds

cilantro, to serve

hot sauce, to serve

Shred Beyond Meat strips and place in a large, shallow dish. Add tequila, lime zest, lime and orange juices (about one cup total, give or take), chili powder, cumin, oregano, diced jalapeño, minced garlic, salt and pepper.  Stir up to coat Beyond Meat with marinade and allow to marinade at least one hour. If you can plan for 2 to four hours, the flavor will be even better.

While you assemble the chimi’s, warm your peanut oil over medium heat in a deep pot to avoid splashing.

To create the chimi, lay one tortilla flat and spread about 1 tablespoon of refried beans across the center. Layer a few pepper slivers in the middle and sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of Daiya shreds on that. Top with about 1/8 cup of marinaded Beyond Meat. Fold the left and right sides of the tortilla to the middle. Grab the back flap and tuck it around the fillings, being careful to keep those left/right side flaps in tight. Roll it up. If you’ve done it correctly, the refried beans will act as “glue” to keep the tortilla closed. You can use a toothpick to secure your tortilla if the refried beans aren’t sticking.

Place in hot oil, which should be slightly bubbly. Brown on both sides until golden and drain on paper towels. Serve with chopped cilantro, your favor hot sauce or other fixins’ like salsa, soy sour cream or guac.

Note: If you aren’t into fried foods, this recipe works well as a burrito or taco too! For the rolling – different tortillas roll differently. We found white flour and spinach  tortillas worked best. Whole wheat and gluten free tortillas tended to tear, but were still tasty!

Oh – and the month is not over! Click on this link to get the $2.00 off Beyond Meat coupon and try this recipe today! http://bit.ly/1fzvcyu

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Colcannon with Fried Leeks

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St. Patty’s Day is just a few days away. Besides BEER, what do you plan to eat? How about something festive, something green, something that will give you a  good base for your belly with all the beer? We suggest our Colcannon with fried leeks on top! This will stick to your ribs and make you feel luckier than an Irishman/woman.

Based on traditional Irish Colcannon, which uses potatoes and cabbage, this dish features bright green shreds of brussels sprouts and kale. It’s warm, filling and hearty. Which is good, because sometimes, it can be chilly on those walks to the pub…

colcannon)lrThis recipe is guest-posted  at Sister Eden’s blog. So click on over to get lucky with the tastiest vegan Colcannon this side of the pond! Happy St. Patty’s!

Chili & Tot Casserole

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You know those winter nights when you want to curl up with your significant other/dog/cat/favorite pillow/all-of-the-above and watch TV? We had one here recently and the Dirty Hippie has pretty much perfected his Chili & Tot Casserole by adding Beyond Meat. We’ve made the casserole before many times, but the texture and chewiness of the meatless chicken added another level of yumminess. As you know, we’re partial to Beyond Meat, having scored a free year of it. But even if we hadn’t we still would buy it all the time. It’s so dang good.

This recipe is one of the vegan meals that is not health food. It’s casual, comfortable and a little greasy. On TV night, it’s the ideal substitute for pizza, or chips and dip.

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Chili & Tot Casserole

two-lb. bag of frozen tots

1 cup onions, choppped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. olive oil

2 chipotles in adobo sauce (available in a can from Goya), minced

1 cup fresh tomato, chopped

2 cups broccoli, chopped

2 cans of seasoned chili beans (we used Bush’s Chili Beans)

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 pack SouthWest Beyond Meat strips, cubed or shredded

1 cup  Daiya Shreds, pepperjack flavor

salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 450. Spread all tots on a baking sheet and bake about 15 minutes, until warm and crispy. When done, remove and set aside. Turn oven to 375.

Saute chopped onions and minced garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat about 3-5 minutes until lightly browned. Mix in a large oven-safe baking dish/casserole with minced chipotles, chopped tomato, chopped broccoli, 2 cans of chili beans with sauce, chili powder, cumin, paprika and Beyond Meat. Season as desired with salt and pepper and mix all ingredients well. Top with baked tater tots and cover with 1 cup Daiya shreds. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes until broccoli is tender and casserole is warmed through.

Cook’s Notes: This recipe is flexible, as is the nature of a casserole. Try cauliflower instead of broccoli. Add carrots if you like. Skip the Daiya/cheese to save a few calories. Make it less spicy by using less chili powder or eliminating the chipotles in adobo – sweet peppers will work fine, too! Or add more heat by tossing in a few chopped jalapeños. Basically, you can really make this recipe your family’s next favorite by truly customizing it to your TV night preferences!

Want to try Beyond Meat? Get a coupon here for $2 off! (the link will give you a coupon you can print out!)

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Making Mardi Gras

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It’s been a few years since myself or the DH have been to New Orleans during Mardi Gras. But the holiday stays with you.  Once you’ve been to (or is that through?) Mardi Gras, it’s part of you forever.

As our lives have changed, we have a new perspective on some parts of the holiday. For example, the traditional masks.  New Orleans has been celebrating Mardi Gras for hundreds of years, and is the largest masked party in North America. In the beginning, masks worn during Mardi Gras allowed wearers to escape society and class constraints. Wearing a mask, festival-goers were free to be whomever they wanted to be, and mingle with whatever class they desired . Today, everyone wears masks during Mardi Gras. In fact, float riders are required to wear masks by law.

Any place in New Orleans you can pick up a feather-covered plastic mask for $5-$15. Everyone knows these masks and some are really gorgeous. But these pretty little masks are neither green, nor vegan. So we set out to create a better alternative. Our friends at Local Color Flowers here in Baltimore were equal to the task. They created these outstanding and absolutely amazing masks for us:

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On the BG is a mask made of fantail willow, pussy wilow, string of pearls (a plant!) and boxwood leaves. The DH’s mask is made from burning bush, hemlock, pussy willow, string of pearls and camellia. Both of these are created from plants that will dry safely and be preserved in the process. So they can even be worn again! And the masks were built on thin plaster, not plastic. So one day, when we tire of them, we can let the whole arrangement compost. If you’re local to Baltimore/D.C., you can call Ellen, Irene and Carling at Local Color Flowers and have them create a mask for you. The company is totally eco-friendly, ethical and uses only plants that are locally grown. We pretty much adore them and as you can see from the masks, they’re mad talented.

Not local enough for Local Color Flowers? Find a green florist near you to create the perfect vegan/eco mask! Or get crafty and try making your own with plants and supplies from your region.

But it’s not Mardi Gras without some spicy Cajun food! If you’re in New Orleans, you know that all the traditional meals are not vegan friendly. Gumbo, Jambalya, Beignets – none of it is vegan. Dirty Rice is a Cajun classic that is near and dear to my heart. My Uncle Ralph lived in New Orleans much of his life. As a little girl, his visits north were much anticipated because of the handfuls of beads he brought (pictured below – I’ve had them for years!), as well as the colorful stories of the French Quarter. He always made Dirty Rice. When I went vegan 19 years ago, the recipe changed – no longer did it include chicken livers or sausage. Beans and eggplant replace the animal products and give the meal some heft.

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You can find this recipe on the Sister Eden blog today! It’s gluten-free, keeps in the fridge well and makes great warm-ups, oh – and if you want to throw some plant-based sausages in there, that would work, too. I’d suggest Field Roast or Tofurky brands.  This is a one-pot recipe and will give you a  solid base in your belly before you venture out in your new eco-friendly mask to drink Hurricanes and Hand Grenades!

Happy Mardi Gras!!